Respond vs React

I was recently listening to a podcast where the guest and host were discussing dog training. The guest was explaining how when she trains dogs, she looks for them to respond as opposed to react. Likewise, she always tries to limit how much she reacts when working with her dogs.

This leads to an obvious question. What’s the difference?

Reacting is instant. A reaction comes from our most basic hardwiring. Reactions are survival oriented and, on some level, a defense mechanism. They usually lead to a less than ideal outcome for a situation. The trouble with reacting is that it is unpredictable. Once someone becomes unpredictable, they become difficult for an animal to trust.

A response, on the other hand is a thoughtful, deliberate action. A response comes slower and takes more discipline to produce, but in the end leads to a happier relationship. When a dog sees a leader calmly and consistently go about their business, it can’t help but trust them.

When working with dogs, it’s easy to become frustrated. You can start to feel like you and the animal are on opposite teams. Eventually, this can lead to errors in training. Either you give up out of anger or you end up being harsher with the animal than you should be. These are both examples of reactions. Neither of these outcomes build trust with a dog. In fact, the dog is less inclined to cooperate because how can they trust someone who is unpredictable in how they behave?

On the other hand, a dog will eventually learn from an owner who calmly and deliberately delivers ques and corrections the same way day after day. Why? Because they know what they are getting, and there is a lot of trust that can be built on that idea.

The thing is, dogs aren’t the only species that value responses over reactions. People are the same way.

We all have someone in our lives that we value because they are grounded, level-headed, relaxed, or whatever adjective you feel best describes that sense of security when you’re around them.

We should all be striving to respond more and react less. The problem is responding takes effort and reacting is literally part of our DNA. We’ve all had a pet, sibling, child, or co-worker drive us to a point past deliberate actions. What’s important is that we respond as much as possible and if we do react, follow it up with a calm, deliberate response. If we strive to do this, people in our lives will trust us more.

Until next time…we are Advoco, make every minute count.

About Joe: Joe has been working for Advoco for the past year. He is originally from Virginia and a Virginia Tech grad. When he’s not working on EAM solutions, you can find him riding horses, playing sports, and going on adventures with his dog.Have a question for Joe? Send him an email!


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